Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010


get ready for this—school has officially begun! the students came streaming in monday morning, flag raising ceremony and all. they went to their respective homerooms as us teachers received our schedules. kind of amusing to look back on the fact that i didn’t know what times i was teaching what students until that first morning—things are done a little differently here (again, learning the value of patience and flexibility)! so as of this week, here’s my schedule: school begins at 8am. each class period is approximately 45 minutes, give or take a few, depending on when a student rings the bell. each day i teach 4 out of the 7 periods in a school day. i typically teach periods 1-3 and occasionally 4th or 5th period, depending on the day. after 5th period there is lunch, then periods 6 and 7, which i have off. the school day concludes around 3pm, but i am done after lunch! not too shabby ☺

definitely a few humorous stories from my first day that i will seek to amuse you with, but first let me try and depict what it looks like when i enter each classroom full of students (another tid bit about school here—the students stay in their classroom all day, it’s the teachers who move from room to room. so i don’t actually have my own classroom, just an fyi). i enter the classroom and the students stand up. i say, “good morning class” and they all reply (with loud, eager voices), “good morning teacher!” i then say, “how are you?” and they answer, “we are fine teacher, thank you. and how are you?” i then say, “i am great, thank you. you may sit down” and they say, “thank you teacher!”. i get to experience this each time i enter the room and it definitely brings a smile to my face and excites me for teaching. as i was teaching 3B, i quickly realized that i had quite the rambunctious group sitting before me and wasn’t exactly sure how to deal with their noise level. i decided to implement a short clapping method, where i clap a little beat, have the students repeat it, and then all voices are supposed to turn off. it took a few tries for me to communicate this, as well as for them to get the clapping rhythm down, and i’m confident it will take many days for them to fully grasp that i expect silence once I begin clapping. as some might say, try, try, try again—and so i will. while i was still teaching 3B, i was posing questions such as “what is your name, how old are you, where were you born, etc”. for a while there they were responding appropriately, and then the so-called ‘class clowns’ surfaced. a few of the boys began telling me they were 100 years old, 62 years old, 1000 years old and so on. i couldn’t help but smile and laugh at their sense of humor—kids will be kids, and that is no exception here in ethiopia! thankfully the homeroom teachers have remained in the room as i teach which has been a big help because they are able to translate at times when it’s evident that the students have no idea what i want them to do—nothing like having 80 sweet kiddos giving you looks of confusion! haha. the teachers have been extremely encouraging about my teaching abilities/style which is just another affirmation that this is exactly where the Lord wants me right now. no better place than being in His will and following in His footsteps.

so many students, so many faces, so many names, so many stories. when I think about it for too long i get overwhelmed. despite this, i’m encouraged by scripture, for we can rest assured that the Lord knows each and every one of them by name. He created them (and you!) with purpose, as unique, beautiful children of His.

things i’ve discovered:

- there are many more male teachers than female teachers here. interesting.
- students will remain in their classroom, even if their teacher does not show up. they wait until the next period, hoping there will be someone to teach them. not really sure if this would be the case back in the states...
- power outages can last a few hours or a few days. our most recent outage this week was for 2 days—doesn’t seem to phase the kiddos much. yay for more candlelight dinners!
- the sun sets over the mountains between 6:15-6:30pm.
- i like helping out in the kitchen. some might say i’m becoming quite the chef...they allowed me to make the salad and cut the bread the other night for dinner. maybe in the near future they will give me more “advanced” tasks. haha
- one of my favorite parts of the day is watching 3 precious little girls eat their meals (Lydia- 2 years, Sarah- 3 years, Selam- 4 years). they do not wear could say they get a little messy. simply adorable.
- hellohowareyouwhatisyourname— the most common words/phrases you will hear the students say to americans. of course, you better stick around long enough to give them a reply because they are very proud of being able to briefly converse with us english speakers ☺
- the rainy season might be finished! it hasn’t rained in 3 days (as of 9/24). that is a big deal and a good sign.
- the pigeons here clap. yes. i did say clap. not all the time, but i’m thinking it’s a method of communication. way cool.


i am having soooo much fun teaching. these kiddos make me smile. a lot. and i definitely think many of my students think i’m crazy. i’m totally ok with that ☺

please pray...

- for each one of my students
- for marta and deme as they are in the united states for a week and a half (good health, travel mercies, accomplishing the tasks at hand)
- for my growing friendship with the american volunteer named zondra
- for continued confidence with the language
- for feelings of peace and encouragement that come only from the Lord when i am missing family and friends

Sunday, September 19, 2010


a lot of new beginnings have taken place since i last updated you. first off, the start to the new year (2003!!!) has come and gone, along with interesting traditions and celebrations. on new year’s eve it is fairly common for families to buy a large, tall bundle of sticks that are to be set on fire. this was no exception for those of us here at project mercy, as we were able to see some of the older boys start the flames as we marveled at its growing grandeur. many of the kids then began singing and shouting happy new year (melcam adis amet). on new year’s day (sept 11), it is tradition for a large “loaf” of bread to be made and eaten together with family and friends. let’s just say i have never seen such a large “loaf” of bread (it was circular in shape…so I don’t know if i can still call it a loaf but for lack of a better word, i am calling it that). we had some with breakfast, lunch and dinner, and there was still plenty left. delicious. it’s also very typical for boys and girls to wear their nicest clothes, and many of the girls had their hair done in an extra special way for the celebratory day. yay for the new year and the many blessings that the Lord will bestow upon these people in the coming year!

last week (sept 6-10) i gained a small bit of insight into what lies ahead in the realm of teaching english. for about an hour each morning, i had the opportunity to teach the house kids (8 total) who are in grades 2 and 3. we worked on writing very short sentences, illustrating these sentences, and speaking. it’s was so great easing into teaching this way, rather than walking in to my class of 80 students, having very little knowledge about their english abilities. i have been able to see a little more clearly what they are capable of and it’s opened my eyes to how great the need is for these students to learn english.

on monday, september 13, i anticipated the first day of school and even had my picture taken in front of the school bell ☺ smiling, eager students piled into the compound, many having walked two hours or so down the mountains. the previous headmaster gathered all the students and had them get into extremely straight lines according to their grade level. he then addressed the student body, asking some students about their summer vacation and then told them that he expected better hygiene and sanitation from the students. he informed the students that they were to go home and clean themselves up, wash their clothes, and gather their school books and come back on wednesday to meet their teachers and see their classroom. the ethiopian flag was then raised and they sang their national anthem and were dismissed. this was all new news to me, so each day i’m learning more and more about flexibility and going with the flow.

on wednesday, september 15, zondra, my fellow american teacher friend (she is here teaching grades 6 & 7 english until june) and i reported to school and learned that starting date for school had been pushed back. we were told that classes would begin the following day (thursday, sept 16), but because they didn’t have all the teachers hired, classes will begin on monday, september 20 (i think i ought to get another ‘first day of school’ pic in front of the school bell…thoughts??). so i guess that’s the new and improved plan… this is definitely making me eager to begin teaching! thanks for your prayers as i start the new school year!

i’m adjusting pretty well to the food here. please allow me tell you what a typical days looks like as far as food goes. for breakfast (usually served around 7:30am) we have porridge, bread, and sometimes fruit (banana, papaya). on occasion we get pancakes. with syrup. yum! for lunch (usually served around 12:30 or 1) we have injerra (sponge-like, thin, easy to tear “bread”), cabbage and carrots, rice or potatoes, bread, and watt (often a spicy broth with some meat). for dinner (usually served around 7:30pm) we have some sort of soup (with lentils, vegetables, and occasionally penne pasta), salad, and bread. on occasion we get pasta. with garlic and cheese. delish. each meal is served with coffee (in Amharic—buna) and tea (in Amharic—shay).

so many of these house kiddos have such a passion for worship. more often than not one can find a young lady or young man who is singing praises to the Lord in amharic—it’s a beautiful sound that demonstrates that God is known and loved by people here. a few kids have asked me on numerous occasions if i knew specific worship songs in english, such as ‘blessed by your name’ and ‘you raise me up. ‘ i was so excited that they were familiar with these songs, so i ran and grabbed my ipod and we began praising the Lord through these english songs. this has been one of my fondest memories with some of the kids so far—all huddled close around the music and lifting our hearts up to Jesus. i’m looking forward to more of these moments as i continue to establish safe, trustworthy, and loving relationships with these children—i love how the Lord will use young minds and hearts to encourage my soul and remind me of the need to give glory to our Savior.

things i’ve discovered:

- there are 13 months in the ethiopian calendar. the last month is only five days long. guess that means i’ve already been here for over a month. time flies! ha.
- ethiopia is larger in size than texas and new mexico combined.
- my aim with a fly swatter is pretty darn good. i usually kill about 3 bugs a night before falling asleep.
- i am living at an altitude of about 8,000 feet…excellent for enhancing my endurance capabilities. don’t worry, i am staying hydrated.
- sweets are a true delicacy here. marta arrived with tasty cake from a bakery in addis on wednesday (sept 8). get this—the baker was trained by a baker from the white house. like where the president lives. let’s just say it was uh-maze-ing.
- there are no such things as lawn mowers here. instead, there are two ways to “mow” the lawn. the first would be the cows. the second would be with a sickle (if you don’t know what this is i encourage you to look it up…maybe i’m just the ignorant one who didn’t know about this device ha). daily i’m reminded by the people here what it means to do work whole-heartedly.
- i do not like eggplant. or ambo (sparkling water that is very popular here)—too much carbonation for my liking.
- i’m becoming a tea drinker. i usually drink 2-3 little cups a day.(mom i bet you are so proud! ☺)
- some of the best whips are made out of dried banana leaves and a little bit of synthetic rope woven together. these boys really know how to crack those whips. the sound is piercing and they look like little studs as they whip those ropes around.
- amazing people come through here for visits of various durations. it’s been wonderful meeting fellow believers and being encouraged in the process.


a group from america arrived to tour project mercy this past week; they were such an encouragement and blessing to be around. one of men in the group makes frequent trips to ethiopia and informed me of a company (you can google them…ClonCom) that allows you to purchase minutes and make international calls at a fairly reasonable rate, and my phone is not charged anything. obviously i got super excited and called home to tell the fam (another praise…i now have a cell phone!!). it’s pretty expensive for me to call the U.S. and through this company it will be much cheaper for people to call me. if you’re interested in learning more about the possibility of this, email my mom ( and she can give you the info and my cell phone number…i’d love to hear from people, even if it’s just for a little bit ☺

please pray…

-for each one of my students (around 300 total)—emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually
-for marta and deme—for strength, energy, and continued guidance from the Lord
-as I continue to adjust to life here and learn what it means to not dwell on the “have nots”, but rather on all the many blessings that surround me
-that i would have a teachable heart, absorbing all that the Lord intends for me to learn
-that i continue to pick up bits and pieces of the language ( it’s definitely tough)
-for patience and flexibility as i try to better relate to the people and the culture

a few things to consider…

“All of my life, in every season, you are still God, I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship”—a line from the song ‘Desert Song’ by Hillsong

when we give, He gives.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

happy new year from ethiopia

Believe it or not, today is new years day 2003 in ethiopia.... yes, 2003... crazy:)

Elizabeth called her dad yesterday and asked for us to write a post for her because she wasn't able to travel into the village this week due to the New Years activities. She sounded upbeat and is looking forward to classes beginning on Monday, September 13th. Elizabeth would greatly appreciate your prayers:) She also commented how excited she is to read all of the emails many of you have written her. Since she's unable to access her blog, feel free to write her anytime through her e-mail:

Hopefully Elizabeth will be able to update her blog late next week!

Blessings to All,
John and Louise Davies

Saturday, September 4, 2010

things i've discovered:

- school starts september 13!

- i will be teaching grades 3 & 4 english. wooooo!
o in grade 3 there are approximately 160 students, meaning that I will be teaching two sections of 80 kids. intimidating? yes.

o in grade 4 there are about 140 students, with about 70 kids in each section. still intimidating. let’s just say that my discipline and classroom management will definitely be stretched. it could be amusing ☺

o there are 7 class periods monday-thursdays. i will teach 4 periods each day. every friday is market day in butajira (7 miles away, but about a 35 min drive on extremely rough roads) so the school day is shortened to 6 class periods

- a couple times a week (during those class periods in which i’m not teaching my grade 3 & 4 students) i will get to walk about a mile up the road to the kindergarten facility and provide some fun english teaching through songs and other methods of teaching. i’m super excited about this!

- the house kiddos love uno. and singing songs such as “ten little monkeys jumping on the bed”.

- my ball handling skills in basketball will be put to the test by some of these 11 year old guys. our game of 6 on 6 showed me that.

- skype is illegal in ethiopia. bummer.

- it’s the rainy season. it rains everyday. sometimes for a little bit, sometimes for a while, and usually every night. this results in lots of mud. lots.

- there is a strong desire among the high school-age students to evangelize to the community. as one student put it, ‘God gave us the great commission to be put into action here on earth. once we are in heaven we no longer can share about His glory and grace’.

- time and flexibility go hand in hand here. this is something i’m having to adjust to, learning that the ways i am accustomed to are not exactly the case here. a sweet ethiopian lady said it best when we were talking about the value of time in this culture, “what’s more important is now, not next”. may we cherish the now and not look too far into what’s next. after all, God is the one who is in control.

something to consider…

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” -Zephaniah 3:17